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November 23, 2009



DiNapoli: Poor Oversight at Schenectady City SD Leads to $50K in Unverified Overtime for One Employee

Risk Assessments Not Completed as Required by Law $26K in Questionable Payments to Employees

Poor oversight by Schenectady City School District officials led to more than $50,000 in unverified overtime for one employee in one school year, annual risk assessments not being completed as required by law and $26,062 in questionable separation payments, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"School district budgets are funded by local property taxpayers and state taxpayers," DiNapoli said. "And taxpayers should feel confident that their money is being put to good use. Schenectady City School District needs to step up and protect taxpayersí money better."

The audit, covering July 2007 to January 2009, found that district officials need to improve their oversight of the districtís operations. Auditors learned the head utility worker, Steven Raucci, received more than $50,000 in overtime during the 2007-08 fiscal year for facilities management and energy management duties. However, the district lacked supporting documentation for what these duties entailed and verification that the hours were actually worked.

In addition, auditors determined the districtís internal auditor, a certified public accounting firm, failed to complete annual risk assessments of the district by deadlines established by law. For 2006-07, the risk assessment was completed almost 14 months late and the risk assessment for 2007-08 had not yet been started when auditors completed their fieldwork in May 2009, making the risk assessment at least five months late. Without timely risk assessments, the district has no way of knowing if it is adequately safeguarding its assets.

DiNapoliís audit also found that complex contract language in agreements with district administrators and employees may have caused the district to pay $26,062 in separation payments that these individuals were not entitled to. In addition, auditors found district staff miscalculated payroll and overtime payments by $2,373. The assistant superintendent of business also failed to properly certify the districtís payroll.

Auditors also discovered that $293,931 in claims paid by the district and approved by the districtís claims auditor lacked proper documentation to ensure the district acquired goods and services in the most economical manner and in the best interest of taxpayers. Approving claims without proper documentation could result in the inappropriate payment of claims.

DiNapoliís office recommends that district officials:

  • require employees to properly document overtime hours worked and duties performed during that time;
  • investigate discrepancies in payroll, overtime and separation payments and recoup any overpayments;
  • provide adequate supervision to ensure payroll is processed accurately and payment amounts are correct;
  • ensure that internal audits are performed in a timely manner and in accordance with the law;
  • make certain employee contracts and collective bargaining agreements provide clear language regarding separation payments; and
  • ensure claims are properly audited and include adequate documentation.

The district disputes some of the auditís findings. The districtís full response is included in the audit. To view the audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/schools/2009/schenectady.pdf.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the stateís schools, DiNapoliís office will audit all of New Yorkís school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services by 2010. The State Comptrollerís office has completed 690 school audits and approximately 40 school audits are currently underway.

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